OVER two weeks into Ramadan now and all my signs of tiredness are clear for the world to see, from my cracked lips to my pale complexion.
I know this because colleagues and friends are always asking if I feel tired.
Even after more than a decade of fasting annually, it is still a challenge for me. But it is a challenge that I willingly commit along with all Muslims everywhere to be closer to Allah.
My stomach is growling aggressively as I type this.
Every day of Ramadan, my routine is to wake up around 5am and eat last night’s leftovers. I then pray and do some light exercises before getting ready for work.
The thing that gets me through the day is that feeling of heading home after work to buka puasa with my family or sometimes friends.
Some days, my relatives will send over homemade mutton briyani rice. It is so yummy, but I can only eat a little to avoid feeling bloated.
It is not that we avoid Ramadan bazaars, but my family prefers home-cooked food, or we will go to the nearest mall to break fast.
I usually head to Ramadan bazaars only to go there for stories.
Such an assignment is quite challenging because I have to ask the trader about whatever they are selling, which I cannot eat but can most definitely smell.
Oh, the challenge! My greatest temptation so far had been from the ayam percik and Mak Ngah Gulai Warisan in Balik Pulau.
We cannot taste the food and can only assume that it is a popular choice from the long queues. That is how I do my Ramadan food write-ups.
I think working during Ramadan is a challenge and blessing at the same time. My mind is occupied as I spend the days conducting interviews and coming up with stories to meet our daily deadlines.
If I were home-bound, I would probably turn into a couch potato (I have to stop thinking of food!) in front of the television or read books to pass the time.
It would be harder to deal with the hunger and dehydration.
I enjoyed reading our paper’s article titled ‘Ramadan is not just about physical self-control but also about spiritual, intellectual self-regulation’ by Institute of Islamic Understanding Malaysia (Ikim) Deputy Director-General Dr Mohd Zaidi Ismail last Tuesday.
He described Ramadan as a time for self-control not only in terms of eating, drinking and copulating but also as higher moral conduct and mental focus.
“In fact, not many Muslims are aware that in terms of their fundamental meanings, fasting and the intellect (al-‘aql) signify the same purpose, namely: complete self-control,” he wrote.
So my momentum as a fasting Muslim is set. My spiritual self is at its peak now and takes control quickly in the face of temptations.
I guard my senses and do not allow my mind to entertain undue desires.
I have become more mindful and reflect before I commit in thought, word or deed. I feel calm and confident when dealing with obstacles and challenges.
If you see me in the streets, do ask “How are you?”, instead of “Why you look so tired lah?”.
I might be tired, but I do not mind because Ramadan is good for me.